Fr. Daniel Gifford
SEE HOW HE LOVES
This weekend, we consider another Station of the Cross, namely the Thirteenth Station (front cover): Jesus is taken down from the cross and lowered into the arms of His afflicted Mother. Consider Mary in this moment. Just before her Son died, He gave her a new mission: Behold your son. In beholding the beloved disciple, she takes up the role of spiritual mother to all of Christ’s beloved disciples. In this station, she is beginning to fill that role immediately, in a sense, as she displays her dearly beloved Son, offered for our salvation, with His arms outstretched as they just were on the cross. Her eyes reach out toward us, piercing our hearts with conviction and with love, as if to say, “See what He has done for you. See how He loves you. My dearly beloved Son… gave His very life… for you.” When we allow her eyes to pierce us with this great saving Truth of His Love, we begin to realize, not only how precious He is to His Blessed Mother, but also how much He cherishes us. We begin to realize what the three parables in this weekend’s Gospel are trying to tell us: when we are lost, and it seems we are too far gone, aware that our transgressions have nailed Him to that cross, He is longing simply just to have us back home. Friends, His Merciful Love is so much stronger than our greatest failures. Rise. And go to your Father. Take one step back toward Him. Then, look up and see Him running to you. Let Him embrace you and welcome you home, for you are dearly beloved to Him.
SCRIPTURE STUDY: A few weeks ago, I explained the vision of asking all of our various groups to be united this fall in focusing on prayer. Some have expressed the question, “Are we not having a Bible Study this year, then?” I would like to address this question. There are different approaches to “Bible Study,” or even more simply to the ongoing study that is a fitting part of the life of any disciple. It is important that we make sure our understanding has not become limited to just one approach. It would indeed be unfortunate if we did not consider something to be a proper Bible Study unless the stated topic were the Scriptures themselves or a particular book within the Scriptures. This approach to Scripture Study is actually much more of a modern approach. While many great studies can be structured in this way, the popularity of this approach (let alone the understanding that this approach is necessarily the preferred approach) is deeply linked to a flawed understanding of Scripture as the sole authority. That understanding, of course, does not have its roots with Christ, but rather with Martin Luther and is ironically contrary to Scripture itself. Another approach to Scripture Study takes a more thematic approach, in which we focus on a particular topic (perhaps Prayer or Evangelization or the Eucharist) and then draw on the Scriptures as they pertain to this topic. Thus, a more holistic approach, rather than isolating particular books or passages, is taken which seeks out a broader vision of what the Lord is telling us in the Scriptures on that particular topic. This approach also does not stop with the Scriptures as the only source, but may also draw heavily on the Catechism or the writings of the Early Church Fathers and many other saints. Since we don’t believe the Scriptures are the only means by which the Lord transmits His Divine Revelation, but rather acknowledge that even the Scriptures themselves point us toward the Church, toward Tradition and the Magisterium, this makes our study all the more well rounded. A proper study of Scripture does not stop with the Scriptures themselves or limit our study to them. As one example, this mentality is what motivates great new study series like the Lectio series, which is produced by Augustine Institute and can be found on Formed.org. If you notice, some of the particular studies in the Lectio series focus on a particular book in Scripture, while others are more topically focused. Thus, they end up being more thorough, holistic, and deeply enriching. Prayer is the basic building-block upon which all of our study must rest. I hope you will consider joining us in keeping this focus for this fall, even as we draw on various sources.
SPEAKING OF FORMED.ORG: Recently, Formed has been doing some reformatting and improving of their offerings. If you haven’t tried accessing Formed in awhile, or perhaps tried it before and found it to be less than convenient, now might be a good time to reacquaint yourself with it. You might find that it loads more quickly on your phone or other tablet and that it can be accessed more readily on your television, along with other improvements. Don’t hesitate to follow the “Join Formed” link on our website, if you haven’t already set up your log-in. The parish has already paid for it, so there is no additional cost to you!
FAMILY DISCIPLESHIP: This week, all of our Family Discipleship offerings go into full swing. High School Youth Ministry has its Kick-Off this weekend. In the coming week, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Confirmation Prep, and a number of our parent households begin their gatherings. If you or your family are not connected with one of these ministries, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. And I would ask all of our parishioners to keep these efforts in your prayers.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!